Published July 14, 2016 by the Central Office
View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
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Some areas of far northwester Wisconsin received torrential rains early this week, with 8 to 10 inches reported in some areas causing major washouts of roads and even major highways. Copper Falls State Park was closed temporarily but has reopened. A campground at Governor Knowles State Forest is closed, and as the water moves down through the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers, some facilities are closed or may be closed at Merrick and Interstate state parks. Sections of the Wild Rivers, Saunders and Gandy Dancer state trails are also closed. Other state properties in the area including Amnicon Falls and Pattison state parks and the Brule River State Forest are open, but travel to destinations may take longer due to numerous road closures. People traveling to the area should check the Wisconsin Department of Transportation www.511wi.gov website for details. The waterfalls are roaring at both Amnicon Falls and Pattison with many visitors showing up with cameras to capture the images. Paddlers are being asked to stay off the Brule River for a few days until the extremely high flows recede.
The heavy rains were quite localized to northwestern Wisconsin and other northern properties such as the Flambeau River, Northern Highland-American Legion and Peshtigo River state forests were not affected by the storm and facilities remain open as is access to all these properties.
Angling pressure remains strong, despite pressure from changing winds and heavy rain. Anglers in the Northwoods are seeing consistent success for largemouth and smallmouth bass. Warmer waters also seem to have improved the number of follows for musky, with some fish up to 45 inches. Panfish action has also been fair.
On Green Bay, the walleye bite has been good at the Menominee River in Marinette and from Pensaukee to Oconto. Anglers out of Suamico were finding good numbers of walleye along with freshwater drum and catfish. Shore anglers on the Fox River were having good success catching white bass, freshwater drum, channel catfish and some walleye. Fishing pressure was far below average this past week along Door County with pleasure boat traffic far outweighing fishing pressure on the bay side. Decent numbers of yellow perch are being caught off of Little Sturgeon Bay and Sawyer Harbor but most were on the smaller side.
Along Lake Michigan pier fishing picked up at Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Port Washington, Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha, with chinook, coho and brown trout all being caught. Perch action was also on the rise at Milwaukee. Out on the lake, trolling success was down some this week but some boats were still hitting their limits in just a few hours, with mostly chinooks were being caught but also many coho and a few rainbows and lake trout.
Healthy looking fawns are plentiful now and moving about; bucks are still growing their velvet antlers with some becoming quite well developed. Plenty of grouse coveys and numerous turkey broods are being seen. Eagles and many other wildlife are fledging at this time, so don't be too surprised to see them on the ground or hear them complaining from the nest as they prepare for their first flights.
Raspberries, blackberries, juneberries and blueberries are ripening across the state. Virginia mountain mint, marsh hedge-nettle and purple prairie clover are a few of the species that are flowering for the first time this year.
Cedar waxwings and whip-poor been feeding frequently on the insects. Up to 40 butterfly species have been counted at Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area since July 1.
Superior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest - The weather was beautiful over the 4th of July weekend. Our Campgrounds reached near full capacity and the river was swarming with people enjoying their long weekend. Over the past week however, catastrophic rain storms caused considerable damage around the region, overflowing the banks of waterways and taking out major travel routes in the region. We are advising people to stay off the river for the next couple of days as water levels are at a dangerous level and wind storms may have caused wind-falls that may be blocking the river.
Follow these links for helpful information concerning the damage caused by flooding or for current road closures concerning your travel plans this weekend.
Fishing will be tough for a little while as the storms caused water levels to rise to incredible levels. USGS flow rate data shows current river levels for the Brule currently standing at over 400cfs. Eagles are fledging so it is not uncommon to see eagles on the ground or squawking from the nest. This first flight can be scary for these young birds as their body mass is quite large from all the food they have been eating but their wings are still pretty weak. Blueberries are ripe so head to your favorite berry patches and start picking. - Edwin Koepp, visitor services associate
Ashland DNR Service Center area
Copper Falls State Park - The park received heavy rains that forced a temporary closure of the park with roads washed out and flooded, but the park is open again and accepting campers. Highway 169 from the park to Mellen is back open. Damage to the park infrastructure is isolated to the main entrance road and park trails. The main entrance road had a washed out culvert and the trails have mud and debris deposited on the trail surface. Park staff and fire control staff worked to open all facilities. During the storm, water in the gorge was over the Tyler Forks Footbridge.
Amnicon and Pattison state parks - The parks received 4 inches of rain on the night of July 11. That was on top of about 8 to 10 inches from the morning of July 11. The park escaped any real damage. Waterfalls have been roaring due to all the rain and day use has been very high at both Pattison and Amnicon Falls state parks with visitors armed with cameras. Some of the hiking trails may be greasy because of the wet conditions and clay soils. There may also be puddles on some of the hiking trails. All campsites are open for use. Both the Black River (Pattison) and the Amnicon River (Amnicon Falls) have started to recede but are providing breathtaking photo opportunities. This Sunday is the Rivet Run 5K at Pattison State Park. All proceeds will be coming back to the park for trail improvement.- Kevin Feind, property supervisor
Wild Rivers State Trail - Four areas of the trail are slumping into Lakeside Lake. This segment of damage is located 1 mile south of the Brooklyn Road crossing. The county has rerouted the trail onto local roads. The Washburn County webpage has trails in the northern part of the county closed. www.washburncounty.org/news/trail-conditions
Wild Rivers State Trail - The trail has a sinkhole between Swamp Road and Mikrot Road. The county has closed this section of trail.
Saunders State Trail - There is a sink-hole above a culvert east of Barnes Road. The county has closed this section of trail.
Gandy Dancer State Trail - Many trees are down along the trail making it inaccessible. Club crews are scheduled Friday to conduct work along the trail. The County will close the trail until the downed trees can be removed. Douglas County website douglascountywi.org
Hayward DNR Service Center area
Tuscobia State Trail - Flood waters washed out a culvert on the Tuscobia State Trail the week of June 19 and a 1.6-mile segment of the trail just east of Winter in Sawyer County is closed until further notice. An alternative route that follows county roads is available. - Todd Hintz, ranger
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Crex Meadows State Wildlife - Swan cygnets are growing, and can be observed in several places throughout the wetlands of Crex. Loon families have been observed on Phantom Lake and along Main Dike Road. Duck broods are plentiful, especially wood ducks, mallards, and ring-necked duck. The red-necked grebes have young, they may be observed near the pull-out on Phantom Lake Road. There is a least bittern nest at the pull-out on Phantom Lake Road. Very hard to locate, but if you search the cattails across from the first open water just south of the pull-out, you might catch a glimpse. Wildflowers blooming across the meadows include hoary puccoon, prairie phlox, northern blue flag iris, large-flowered penstemom, slender penstemom, blue giant hyssop, black-eyed susan, butterfly milkweed, common milkweed, wood lily, spiderwort, tall meadow rue, and harebell. White water lilies, pond lilies, pickerelweed and watershield flowers are blooming in the wetlands. Berry species are forming their fruit. Butterflies activity is in an upswing. Hairstreaks and grass skippers should increase through July. A few species are winding down on their flight, and many species are or will be in their second flights this month. Butterflies reported since July 1 include clouded sulphur, orange sulphur, cabbage white, American copper, coral hairstreak, Edwards hairstreak, banded hairstreak, hickory hairstreak, coral hairstreak, eastern tailed-blue, summer spring azure, great-spangled fritillary, aphrodite fritillary, meadow fritillary, gorgone checkerspot, northern crescent, Compton tortoiseshell, mourning cloak, American lady, red admiral, common buckeye, red-spotted purple, white admiral, viceroy, northern pearly eye, eyed brown, little wood satyr, common wood nymph, monarch, least skipper, pecks skipper, tawny-edged skipper, long dash, northern broken-dash, mulberry wing, two-spotted skipper, broad-winged skipper, black dash, dion skipper and dun skipper. - Kristi Pupak, natural resources educator
Governor Knowles State Forest - Due to rising flood waters on the St. Croix River, the St. Croix Campground at Governor Knowles State Forest will be closed until further notice. Currently the bridge access to the main entrance of the campground is under approximately 10 inches of water and rising. The wayside has flood waters covering approximately about a quarterof the loop road. - Kyle Anderson, superintendent
Interstate Park - Access to hiking trails may be impacted by high water conditions on the St. Croix River and surrounding lowlands. Please check with park staff for current conditions or trail closures. Heavy rains in north central Minnesota and northern Wisconsin on July 11 have resulted in rapidly rising rivers. Many tributaries of the St. Croix have overflowed their banks. A high volume of the water, and associated debris, is now making its way downstream. Use caution during these high water conditions and stay out of closed areas. The St. Croix River is rising due to the recent heavy rain storms. The beach area was closed on July 13. As the water rises, the river bottom picnic area and boat launch area may also have to be closed. Once the waters recede the areas will be opened for public use. The St. Croix River valley can be viewed from vantage points including Horizon Rock, Summit Rock, and Eagle Peak. The river gorge known as the Dalles of the St. Croix is best viewed from bluff trails including Pothole, Summit Rock, Echo Canyon and River Bluff. Watchable wildlife trails include the 1-mile Lake O' the Dalles Trail and the 2.4-mile Silverbrook Trail. Both hiking trails have a variety of habitats which provide for excellent wildlife watching opportunities. An active bald eagle nest can be observed from the peak on Eagle Peak Trail, and a great blue heron rookery can be observed from the vicinity of the Camp Interstate Shelter. For additional information on St. Croix River conditions and closures, please visit the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway website at www.nps.gov/sacn - Julie Fox, natural resources educator
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - The constantly changing weather with some periods of extremely heavy rain has made for some challenging fishing conditions in the last week. Many lakes and rivers in the northwest and far north areas of Wisconsin may be inaccessible due to the extreme flooding and high water conditions. The area east of Hayward and south of Glidden did not receive as much rain as the other areas and conditions have been manageable in those parts. For fishing action, both largemouth and smallmouth bass have provided that most consistent success and many anglers have reported some good days on the water. Largemouth bass still seem to be transitioning to their typical summer pattern (in woody cover, under bog edges, docks, etc.) and many still seem to be holding near the deep weed edges and around deep-water cover. Soft plastics and fast-retrieved crank baits have been producing some nice catches. Smallmouth bass have been a bit tougher to come by than largemouth, and they have been particularly picky in the lures that they'll hit. Some nice fish have been caught near mid-depth woody cover, and small finesse plastics have been the key in getting them to bite. Musky action has also improved with the warmer water temperatures and many anglers have reported a lot of follows. Some decent catches are also being made, with most fish in the mid to upper 30-inch range and a few up to 45 inches also reported. Many different types of baits have been successful, but top-waters and glide baits seem to be the favorites in the past week. Walleye success continues to be generally erratic, with the best action found in mid-depth weed beds and the open pockets within these beds. Panfish action has been fair, with some decent catches of crappie, bluegill and rock bass still being made around mid-depth cover. Water temperatures on most waters across the North have been in the low to mid-70s. Weed abundances do seem to be relatively low for this time of year, as many lakes and flowages have only light to moderate weed growth in many areas that typically have thick weed beds. It appears that the dark-stained run-off water, the result of heavy rains in the last few weeks, has limited plant growth and many mid-depth weed beds will continue to be rather sparse throughout the summer. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Flambeau River State Forest - Flambeau River water levels are high due to the storms that the north part of the state incurred last weekend. People have been floating the river and enjoying the fast ride. Though fishing has been slow, there were some smallmouth bass caught on the river. The free river campsites saw increased usage last week. Hiking Trails are open throughout the Forest. Due to high water it may not be possible to cross the river at Little Falls/Slough Gundy Scenic Area this weekend. The Flambeau ATV/UTV trails are in good condition. except an area between the two small bridges, south of Hwy EE and north of Oxbo Drive. This area has some erosion due to the last storm. Deer fawns seem to be healthy and somewhat plentiful, and bucks antlers are in velvet. Bears have been observed by many of the staff and visitors, indicating good populations as well as plenty of grouse coveys and turkey broods. Some Hairy woodpeckers were seen and their youngsters were round and chubby. Milkweed is blooming and Juneberries, blueberries, and raspberries are out. The roadsides are being mowed so the visibility is better for drivers. Sounds like there is a chance of rain for the rest of the week. - Diane Stowell, visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - The forest was not affected by the storms on July 11. All campgrounds and facilities are open. Trails are in good condition. The paved bike trails in the forest have been receiving heavy use. - Steve Petersen, forest superintendent
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
This report is for the week of July 3-9. Fishing pressure was moderate to heavy this past week with the warm weather and the Fourth of July. Lots of kayakers and tubers were also enjoying the hot weather by taking to the water.
Marinette County - Catfish, sheepshead and the occasional walleye are being caught at the mouth of the Peshtigo River using a variety of techniques including live bait, jigs, and stick baits. The same has been true for the Menominee River with the exception the walleye bite has been much better. Anglers are trolling from Stephenson Island to Boom Island using stick baits and crawler/harness. Reports of few browns being caught south of the Menominee River trolling spoons. No reports of perch yet. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - Bluegill remain to be the fish of choice at the dam at Stiles with anglers using mostly live bait. The landing at Iron Bridge on the Oconto River saw many non-anglers using tubes to float and enjoy the river. The mouth of the Oconto River is seeing an up tick in the number of smallmouth bass being caught using live bait, plastics, and stick baits. The walleye bite from Pensaukee to Oconto Park II has been very good with anglers reporting catching limits of fish in the 16 to 24 inch range. Crawler/harness trolled in 7 to 17 feet of water has been working the best. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Brown County - Fishing pressure was moderate this week from the Suamico River Boat Launch. Weather was very warm but anglers were battling through it, later in the week winds picked up and made it tough for anglers to get on the water. Friday July 8 anglers were finding good numbers of walleyes which all ran from 15 inches to about 18 inches. Besides walleyes anglers were getting good numbers of freshwater drum and catfish incidentally while targeting walleye. Good numbers of Northern Pike were being caught right in the Suamico River with the biggest fish reported was 34 inches. Water temperatures were in the mid-70s and water clarity was around 2-3 feet. Fishing pressure at the Fox River Metro Launch was surprisingly low, only counting 4 trailers in two days. Of the boats interviewed they reported a slow bite for walleye and a few freshwater drum as well. The winds in the later part of the week deterred many anglers from heading out. Water temperatures were in the mid-70s and water clarity was right around 2-3 feet. Shore anglers on the Fox were having good success this week catching a wide variety of fish. Some of the fish species that were caught were: white bass, freshwater drum, channel catfish, walleye, and common carp. The best success came from the anglers at the Fox River Metro boat launch, with the best bait being live bait on a floating jig head. Fishing pressure was slightly down due to the extreme warm weather we experienced in the middle of the week. Water temperatures were in the mid-70s and water clarity was hovering around 2 feet. - Derek Apps, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Door County - Fishing pressure was far below average this past week in Door County. Following the weekend of the Fourth, pleasure boat traffic far outweighed fishing pressure on the bay side. During the early part of the week winds greatly impacted the fishing on Lake Michigan with below average catches being reported. Warm water conditions and low numbers of baitfish had the biggest impact on fishing success this past week. Fish were mostly being caught between 60-80 feet in the waters near Baileys Harbor. Walleye catch rates for boaters launching from Chaudoir's Dock and Carmody were low to moderate, with the later having the higher numbers. Average walleye sizes were larger than those in Southern Green Bay. Crank baits and crawler harnesses were being used at near equal rates. Time of day did not seem to make a big difference. Decent numbers of yellow perch are being caught off of Little Sturgeon Bay and Sawyer Harbor. Many of the perch are on the smaller side. Anglers are catching one "keeper sized" fish out of every five or so perch brought to the boat. Fishing live bait on or near the bottoms has landed the most fish. While many catfish and freshwater drum are resulting in side-catches by walleye boaters, a few pier anglers at Chaudoir's Dock were targeting them. These anglers were finding success casting live bait, off of a sinker on the bottom of the bay. The best bite was right at sunset. - Adrian Meseberg, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Kewaunee County - Fishing pressure was consistently high with a sudden pier fishery beginning around mid-week. Steady west winds helped push warm surface waters offshore which caused cooler waters to fill the void. Cool water brought baitfish and feeding salmon nearshore allowing for some great fishing off the pier in Kewaunee. The cool water scattered salmon and anglers were catching fish in depths ranging from 20-180 feet. The best success was in the early morning beginning after midnight until around 7 a.m. Most fish were being caught on glow spoons and pier fisherman had luck using alewives. - Adrian Meseberg, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Manitowoc County - The last two weeks of fishing has been good with most all anglers catching fish and some catching large fish. Chinook have been the most consistent catch with many coho, rainbows and lakers mixed in. Don't overlook the shallow water as many anglers have found fish in 60 feet or less. Finding cool water and baitfish is key. Pier fishing has been good with many anglers catching a mix of chinook, coho, rainbow and browns off the piers in Two Rivers and Manitowoc. Early morning bite was the most consistent with fish being caught on both spoons and alewife. The recent weather has mixed up the lake and will disrupt the fishing. Hopefully the lake will settle over the middle of the week and fishing will pick up by the weekend. - Benjamin Thome, creel clerk, Mishicot
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - The storms that affected northern Wisconsin stayed well to our west but we have had good amounts of rain recently. The berries have been fantastic this year with big patches of large blueberries, heavy crops of Juneberries, and the promise of a great blackberry crop if conditions continue. Hen turkeys and their broods are now a fairly common site along trails and roadsides and in open fields as they are seeking out insects to feed on. Deer are still growing their velvet antlers with some becoming quite well developed. The oak wilt restriction (No cutting of oak from April 1 -July 15) is coming to a close on Marinette County Forest as the threat of disease transmission through wounds by beetles has subsided. Invasive bush honeysuckle is done flowering now and is easily spotted with its red fruits. A few monarchs have been visiting common milkweed and other nectar plants, but the numbers seem to be down considerably from this time last year. Native cow parsnip is now in full bloom in many low ground areas across the county. Cow parsnip is often mistaken for giant hogweed, an invasive plant. There is currently no known population of giant hogweed in Marinette County. Another invasive plant, knapweed, is now flowering, but has not yet set seed--this is the last window of opportunity to mow it without spreading new seeds as you mow. Mosquitos and ticks are still around but in low number compared to the last couple of years. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Potawatomi State Park -
Milkweed is in bloom. Berries are ripening on many plants, including red and white baneberries. Sulphur five-fingers are in bloom near the shoreline. Visitors report seeing three large wild turkeys near the Old Ski Hill Overlook. - Lois M. Hanson, visitor services associate
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Southern Unit - Raspberries and blackberries are starting to ripen in the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. However, other plant species are also fruiting, including some poisonous ones like red baneberry and doll's eyes. So don't eat anything unless you're certain that it's edible! While some compass plants are blooming several feet above the chest-high prairie vegetation, several less conspicuous species are also flowering for the first time this year including Virginia mountain mint, marsh hedge-nettle, narrow-leaved loosestrife, and purple prairie clover. American bitterns are known to occur in the area, but it was only a few evenings ago that DNR staff observed the first one of the year. Similarly, a widespread, but rarely seen mammal became the finale of a recent guided night hike. A few nights ago, campground hosts Mike and Sharon called a ranger to identify a strange creature at their bird feeder. The ranger shared a photo of the suspect with one of the forest naturalists, who led the brave night hikers to see ... a flying squirrel! No doubt, there are nearly an infinite number of discoveries to be made in our great outdoors. - Todd Miller, assistant naturalist guide
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - Shore fishing in Sheboygan remained good all of last week until it started to slow down on Friday night and remained very slow throughout the weekend. A few brown trout were caught Sunday morning from the end of North pier on alewives. Trolling success also slowed down a little this weekend. Most boats caught one to two fish per person, with mostly chinook and coho taken but also a few rainbows. Most boats were in 80- 120 feet of water and using flasher and fly combinations.
Ozaukee County - Fishing from the north pier was good last week, with mostly coho being caught, up until Friday night when the winds shifted. After that, Saturday and Sunday were very slow. One angler had success catching perch from the end of the pier on Saturday and Sunday. The north pier will no longer be closing in August for repairs, and will remain open until further notice. Boating pressure was relatively low on Friday and Saturday, but those who did go out did okay. Sunday morning had very high boating pressure. Some boats were hitting their limits in just a few hours early in the morning. Mostly chinook were being caught, but also many coho and a few rainbows and lake trout. Flasher and fly combinations were most popular, and some anglers used spoons. Most boats seemed to be out anywhere from 65-145 feet of water.
Milwaukee County - When nearshore waters are cool, coho and occasional chinook have been biting off McKinley pier on spoons and alewives. The water was warm over the weekend, but it has once again cooled off during the week. One angler caught a limit of small, 7-9 inch perch on Saturday while casting a small goby colored tube jig by the Coast Guard station memorial bridge in McKinley Marina. In addition, nice catches of rock bass continue to come from the fishing areas around McKinley marina. Anglers had good luck using red worms, wax worms, and nightcrawlers. A few nice size perch were caught on the Grant Park shoreline by anglers soaking fathead minnows and jigging small smelt gulp. Anglers continue to land sheepshead on the Oak Creek Power plant fishing pier along with nice size coho after a couple of days with west winds. Fishing effort from boats in Milwaukee was high over the weekend despite 10-20 mph north/northeast winds and 2-4 foot waves. Some of the boats caught kings, coho and browns while trolling near the break wall gaps and inside the harbor until the winds and waves settled down. Over 50 boats trolled in 70-90 feet of water from the water filtration plant to Fox Point on Sunday, July 10. Most of the fish seen at the McKinley fish cleaning station over the weekend were chinook salmon, followed by coho and rainbows. Boats out of Bender had good luck most of the week while trolling with flashers and flies in 40-60 feet of water. Half of the Bender boats headed north toward Grant Park and the other half headed south to the Oak Creek Power Plant and Wind Point. Boats out of South Shore continue to have good luck trolling north of McKinley harbor in 70-90 feet of water between the water filtration plant and the Capitol Drive TV towers. Some of the South Shore boats reported good luck trolling with glow-in-the-dark spoons south of the Green Can Reef. One of the South Shore boats (2 anglers) caught a limit of coho and kings while jigging smelt gulp on a darter jig head in the south gap on Saturday. South Shore Park and the South Shore boat ramp will be closed for the Water Frolics at midnight on Tuesday, July 12 and won't reopen until Tuesday, July 19.
Racine County - Boats fishing out of Racine are catching some fish, but it has been more difficult to find them in recent days. Trollers reported fishing from 35 feet out to 130 feet of water, and 90-120 feet seemed to produce the most fish. Most anglers used flasher/fly, dodger/fly, or spoons to catch their fish. A few boats reported using j-plugs and meat rigs with some success as well. Boats ran their lures from the 15 feet down all the way to the bottom, with many boats reporting that around 40 feet down was the best. No perch anglers were interviewed this past week, and the nearshore water temperature was 69 degrees over the weekend. The nearshore water has cooled down as of Wednesday, July 13, and anglers fishing off both the north and south piers are once again catching fair numbers of coho and brown trout, along with occasional chinook.
Kenosha County - Kenosha boats trolled in 80-130 feet of water this week with their baits from 20-60 feet down. Spoons and flies with flashers or dodgers worked the best. Anglers caught a mix of rainbows, kings, and coho salmon. Some lake trout and brown trout were also caught. In addition, some perch were caught by boats this week. The water temperature was 69 degrees. Pier and harbor anglers in Kenosha caught some brown trout this week. Most of the fish were caught on spoons or live alewives during low light periods. A handful of perch were reported this week as well. The water temperature was 67 degrees.
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - Many young animals are being seen roaming around with their mothers/parents, or have fledged already and are out on their own. Bluebirds are hatching their second clutch while pheasant chicks and turkey poults can be found following their mothers and aggressively eating insects to pack on weight. Fritillary butterflies are very active right now. Prairies are full of color with multiple species blooming, including purple prairie clover, purple coneflower, bergamot, culver's root, thimble weed, and black eyed susans. Wildlife staff have begun banding mourning doves, and it appears that brooding conditions have been very good this year. - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette
Dane County - Prairies are always in transition. Currently they are entering their showy peak with wildflowers like Compass plant, bee balm, yellow coneflower and butterfly milkweed in full bloom. Butterflies are active now with a noticeable uptick of monarchs over the past week. Other species being seen include black swallowtail, tiger swallowtail, eyed brown, northern pearly eye, banded hairstreak, wood satyr, and Appalachian browns amongst many others. Bird nesting is wrapping up but this is the best time to confirm nesting for the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas. Many long distance migrants are feeding young inside and away from the nest including warblers, orioles and hummingbirds. Many species of grassland birds are on their second nesting attempt and are moving locally to productive habitats with recent rains and land management activities. Turkey and pheasant broods are getting bigger and are actively feeding in and around grasslands and crop fields. Goose banding has concluded for 2016 with an apparent strong year class of giant Canada geese at local wetlands and water bodies. DNR biologists have been seeing good numbers of fawns in Dane County this July. - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist, Fitchburg
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Vernon County - Cedar waxwings, wood pewees, nighthawks, and whip-poor-wills have been very active lately, feeding heavily on flying insects. Skunks and raccoons are busy during the nights digging for insect larvae or grubs in lawns. These two animals, especially a family of raccoons, are capable of extensively damaging lawns in a short time as they roll back portions of sod in search of these delectable foods. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua
Merrick State Park - The water levels on the Mississippi River are rising due to the recent heavy rain storms and water levels are predicted to rise high enough to cover the south campground road early next week. Areas that may be closed include the south campground, island campground, group campsite and the south boat launch. Current predictions indicate that the river will crest on Wednesday, July 20. There is no indication as to how quickly the water will recede. The predicted high water level should not impact vault toilet buildings. Picnic tables will be moved to higher ground as needed. Once the waters recede the areas will be opened for public use. - Lois Larson, park manager
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - There are not many bugs anymore. It's still a good idea to bring bug spray, just in case you need it. The park has 6 non-reservable, 1st come/1st serve sites when all others are reserved on weekends. Still sites available mid -week. The beach is a great place to cool off and escape the bugs. There has been some algae blowing around the lake with the lake being busier. If the swimming beach water is green, it will blow back out during the day or you can check out the other beach. Canoes and kayaks are available to rent during open office hours. Park stickers are required at the park boat launches, no additional fees. Dates are still available for the accessible cabin for this year. Applications can be mailed to the park or faxed to 608-565-8033. Keyword search "cabin" on dnr.wi.gov. - Heather Wolf, park manager